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Hurricane Sandy Knocks Out 25% Of Cellphones-Many Still Without Service.

Many on East Coast still without cell service
(Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

While Hurricane Sandy has faded, the cleanup begins, and so does the effort to restore cell service in hundreds of communities.

Radio and TV stations battled to stay on the air during the violent storms, but largely were able to continue communications with the public-often in part to backup power and transmitter systems.   But for 25% of cellphone customers in the 10 states affected by Sandy, they are without cell service!  It’s still affecting Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.    FCC officials say excessive flooding was the main culprit.

The water washed over cell tower locations, shorting out power and knocking the towers offline. PC Magazine reports some towers were also taken out by debris, and loss of power.  Most of the towers had backup power supplies, so even ones that were not flooded stayed on the air for a while, but the backups are not meant to run the towers for more than a day or so.

To make matters worse, crews are still not able to reach some of the towers because the water is too high, and even if they could, the water has to recede before crews can repair the facilities on the ground.

While the four networks were able to use other towers and backup systems to handle overloads on existing grids,   if the towers in your area were taken out, and you were out of range of other working cell towers in the 10 state area, your phone would be essentially dead.     We at Newstalk remember when we went on the Townsquare Media DJ cruise to Alaska a couple of years ago.

When we navigated well out into the Pacific Ocean on our way to Ketchikan,  we noticed the display on our phone was blank, except for only the time.   It looked pretty strange.

Officials don’t have a timetable for when full service will be restored, but repairs are already underway in many sites.  Not only did this affect cell service, but many wireless-based landlines, and computer service.

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